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342 pages, Paperback
First published August 27, 2015
“I want a place you hardly dare to even whisper. I want the bravery to not only read, but to do. I want a man, not a library boy. A man who is tall and witty and knows more about the world than you would ever dare dream.”
“Vhalla, you are a sorcerer.”
“Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other's existence.”
“Because, Vhalla, you think and you watch, but you never do. You can read all the books in this library, be wiser than the master himself someday, and then you will die having never really done anything. You will have only ever lived through everyone else's experiences.”
"I may be a prince," he said as his lips brushed her ear lightly. "But I would trade it all to be a common man, even if only for tonight."
Sorcerers were odd, they were dangerous; they kept to themselves and left normal people alone. That was why they had their own Tower, so they kept out of sight and mind. Everyone in the South had always told her so. It was the last place she belonged.
…when the hairs at the nape of her neck raised on end.
Soldiers – your father – came home because the magical warriors of the Black Legion.
Pinned to the man’s breast was a symbol she knew well. She would know that symbol—a symbol that hovered over her every waking hour— better than any in the world.
It was actually Vhalla who felt shamed when the woman began to clean up her spew that puddled on the floor.
Vhalla may be a bad liar but that wouldn’t stop her from looking for a lie in others.
Vhalla couldn’t suppress a small giggle, it was the first time she laughed in a week, and it made her whole body feel lighter.
It was about time that she met a sorcerer with gentle and happy manner.
“This isn’t going to work,” she muttered doubtfully. Her conviction quickly vanishing.
“Take care of yourself,” Larel demanded gently.
“I understand,” Larel nodded and said with a tone that made Vhalla believe her.
The kitchens served a small cake with tea or lunches for nobles and royals. White sugar glaze on top, Vhalla coveted the spongy yellow sweet throughout the year.
Giant stands extended up from the wall that were supposed to be reminiscent of the sun’s rays.
…at her eyes continued refusal to focus.
…trying to avoid the silence from stretching on for too long.
…but it was the trace of worry between his brows did not reassure Vhalla.
…the Emperor boomed warmly, not unlike Prince Baldair she thought amusingly.
…She would be torture for Aldrik to watch her die.
“And your black robe,” she said very matter of fact.
I am not special. I have never been someone who is special.
She was a library apprentice, no one—less than.
Vhalla had always been jealous of Roan’s hair and generally everything else about her. Vhalla’s hair was a dark brown mess of frizz and untamable waves; Roan’s fell in beautiful curls. Southerners were lucky with their light skin and features. Even the Gods were shown that way. Vhalla felt perpetually inadequate compared to Southerners and Westerners. Those in the East had yellow-hued skin with dark brown eyes and wavy hair. Nothing was fantastic about her.
Her dark brown eyes—flecked with gold…
He slapped at her fingers then grabbed her chin, forcing her face up to look at his. The jerking motion was painful, and she barely managed to suppress a whimper. Vhalla was fairly certain he would’ve liked that even less.
“Stay there,” he spoke slowly. “Stay on the floor where you belong. You are like a pathetic little worm who only wants to sit in the dirt when I was prepared to give you a chance to grow wings and fly.”
“Because air cannot hurt Windwalkers, like fire cannot hurt Firebearers,” he pointed out.
But she remembered the words of the minister; the prince had been the one who had taken her to the Tower in the first place, and she likely would’ve died without that.
She had actually agreed to a date of sorts with Sareem. Sareem! But what else was she to do when he kissed her?
Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.
They were sending her to war, so she would go and become something they had every right to fear.
The prince spirited her away the next day, and two days after that. Each time there was some clever excuse, and when those ran out he simply materialized between the shelves in the library and they would slink off together like children.
"You are my friend, whatever this commoner's friendship is worth."
When he spoke it was slow and deliberate, little more than a whisper. His voice had a richness to it that she had never heard before. "It is worth very much." His eyes consumed hers.